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Posts Tagged ‘Brie Larson’

Brie Larson

“THE GLASS CASTLE” My rating: C+

127 minutes | MPAA rating: PG-13

There are a few moments when “The Glass Castle” threatens to come to emotional life.

But they pass.

Heaven knows there’s a compelling story here.  Based on Jeannette Walls’ best-selling memoir of a wildly unconventional upbringing and a troubled maturity, this film describes a girlhood dominated by fiercely nonconformist parents who are always just a step ahead of the cops and the child services people. (This was a theme explored, with more success, in last year’s “Captain Fantastic.”)

But despite offering a hair-raising depiction of how not to raise children, Destin Daniel Cretton’s film plays more like a freak show — with one display of parental insanity following another — than the deeply moving drama it obviously aims to be.

New York City, 1989.  From a taxi window gossip columnist Jeannette Walls (Brie Larson, an Oscar winner for “Room”) spots a distressing and deeply personal vignette: An unkempt woman scrounges through a dumpster while her man rages at the passing traffic.

They are Rose Mary (Naomi Watts) and Rex (Woody Harrelson), Jeannette’s parents, who are squatting in an abandoned building and living hand to mouth.

This triggers a series of flashbacks to Jeannette’s nomadic and impoverished childhood and especially her relationship with Rex, a possibly brilliant man who is all ideas and no follow-through, a mean alcoholic and a charismatic ranconteur.

Rex is the kind of guy who, lacking money for Christmas presents, takes his kids outside to pick a star for their very own. (Awww.)  He’s also borderline abusive, teaching his terrified daughter to swim by throwing her in the deep end of the pool.

Rose Mary is only marginally more centered. She devotes herself to painting (without ever improving, apparently) and has no time for mundane stuff like feeding her offspring.  (more…)

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Left to right: Armie Hammer, Brie Larson, Cillian Murphy, Sam Riley, Michael Smiley

“FREE FIRE”  My rating: C+

90 minutes | MPAA rating: R

A dozen tough guys stewing in their own testosterone. A van packed with illegal weapons.  A briefcase full of cash. A closed environment from which there is no easy escape.

What could go wrong?

A streamlined 90 minutes of pumped-up bullet blasting (literally) and wienie waving (metaphorically), “Free Fire” is the latest from Brit action auteur Ben Wheatley (“Kill List”), but its origins are pure Quentin Tarantino, with special nods to “Reservoir Dogs” and “The Hateful Eight.”

In an abandoned umbrella factory in Boston an arms deal is taking place.

Chris (Cillian Murphy) has crossed the pond to buy automatic weapons for the IRA (the time is the mid-‘70s, judging by the dreadful fashions, hairstyles and absence of cell phones).

He’s backed by the grimly efficient hitman Frank (Wheatley regular Michael Smiley), Frank’s screwup brother-in-law Stevo (Sam Riley), and Stevo’s worthless running buddy, Bernie (Enzo Cilenti).

Selling the weapons is Rhodesian gun runner Vernon (Sharlto Copley), a world-class sleazebag whose smarmy mouth keeps writing checks his fists cannot cash.  Good thing his seemingly civilized partner Martin (Babou Ceesay) is there to keep Vernon in check.

Vernon has his own goon squad on hand:  The mountainously hairy Jimmy (Mark Monero) and the wizened Gordon (Noah Taylor).

Supervising the transaction are the two middlemen who set up the deal.  Ord (Armie Hammer) is a superslick dude in a turtleneck and blazer who oozes post-modern irony; Justine (Brie Larson) is a cool beauty sharp enough to verbally emasculate chauvinists like Vernon but willing to use her seductive skills to get what she wants. (more…)

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